Simon “Sam” Rodia (b. 1879, Italy) was an artist most known for his large-scale installation in Watts, California, entitled Nuestro Pueblo, but more commonly referred to as Watts Towers. Rodia was born in a small town near Naples, Italy and immigrated to the United States with his family in the early 1890s. His early life is sparsely documented, but upon moving to the US, Rodia moved to the West Coast and found work in rock quarries, logging and railroad camps, and construction. He eventually settled in Long Beach around 1911.
Several years later, in 1921, he purchased a lot at 1765 East 107th street in the Watts district of Los Angeles, on which to construct his large-scale masterpiece. Rodia worked on Nuestro Pueblo for over 25 years, in the evenings and on weekends, after his various day jobs, until its completion in 1948. He designed and built the Towers entirely himself, constructing them out of masonry, tile, and various found objects, and decorating the surfaces with singular, hand-placed mosaics. Several structures compose the complete installation, the largest of which stands at 99 1/2 feet tall. Rodia gifted the property to his neighbors before retiring to Martinez, CA, where he died in 1965. The Watts Towers were his last work of art.